Trials in Ukraine (and Tashkent) (55.1)

<<No 55 : 31 December 1980>>

The Trial of Streltsov, November 1979

On 25 October Vasily Streltsov (CCE 53), a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, was arrested in Dolina (Ivano-Frankovsk Region) for a “violation of residence regulations”. Two years ago, he renounced his Soviet citizenship and sent his passport to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (CCE 54).

On 12 November, a Dolina court sentenced Streltsov under Article 196 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code to two years in strict-regime camps. (In the corresponding Article 198 of the RSFSR Criminal Code the maximum sentence is one year.)

Neither the inhabitants of the town where Streltsov had been a teacher for many years, nor Vasily’s brother and only relative Pavel, knew anything about the trial. There were only two “men in civilian clothes” in the courtroom. There was no defence lawyer. The trial lasted three hours.

After the trial Pavel Streltsov was refused a meeting with his brother on the grounds that he was “in quarantine”. He was still in quarantine on 31 December.

The Trial of Pyotr and Vasily Sichko, December 1979

On 4 December the Lvov Regional Court, presided over by Kryuchkov, examined the case of members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group Pyotr Sichko and his son Vasily, who were charged under Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (= Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Code). The prosecutor was Deputy Regional Procurator Rudenko. Defence lawyers were appointed by the investigators, in spite of the fact that the accused refused them. The court sentenced Pyotr Sichko to three years in strict-regime camps and Vasily Sichko to three years in hard-regime camps.

Only a “specially invited” public was allowed into the courtroom. Stefania Pyotrash, Pyotr’s wife and Vasily’s mother, discovered only by chance, on December 7, that the trial had taken place.

Pyotr and Vasily Sichko were arrested on 5 July (CCE 53). The pre-trial investigation of their case was concluded on 26 September (CCE 54). They refused to take part in the investigation and did not sign a single record. Each time they were handcuffed and dragged to the investigator’s office.

The trial started thus: “The trial is beginning. All rise!” P. Sichko turned to his son: “Do we sit, son?” — “We sit, dad”. Police escorts grabbed them by the arms and lifted them up; they were forced to hold them in a hanging position as they lifted their feet off the ground. “Do we hang, son?” — “We hang, dad!”

Father and son both refused to take part in the court proceedings. They were both charged in connection with their behaviour on 10 June at the grave of composer V. Ivasyuk (CCEs 53, 54). There were no witnesses to support this charge, nor were there any of the leaflets mentioned in the newspapers Ukrainian Youth and Red Dolina (9 and 23 August respectively).

Vasily Sichko was also charged in connection with his poems, which had been confiscated at a search on the day of his arrest (in a handwritten notebook). Pyotr Sichko was also charged in connection with a letter which he had sent to the Presidium of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet on 30 April, protesting about the repressive measures taken against the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, commenting on the country’s socio-economic position and renouncing his Soviet citizenship (CCE 53).

Two witnesses who were former fellow-students of Vasily Sichko testified that he had dreamed of forming an underground student organization. Pyotr Sichko responded by saying: “Shame on students who defame the sacred values of learning!” He was then escorted from the courtroom and brought back only an hour before the trial ended.

Pyotr and Vasily Sichko refused to make final speeches and also to submit appeals. In prison after the trial Pyotr Sichko had a heart-attack. On 25 December he was transferred to a camp — [penal] institution UL-314/11 (town of Bryanka, Voroshilovgrad Region).

The Trial of Litvin, December 1979

On 17 December in Vasilkov, Kiev Region, a court presided over by Vasilyeva examined the case of Ukrainian Helsinki Group member Yury Litvin, who was charged under Article 188-1 part 2 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (“resisting a police official or people’s vigilante [druzhinnik]”). Lawyer V.V. Medvedchuk defended Litvin.

Litvin had been arrested on 6 August (CCE 54). The trial was originally set for 13 December, but on that day it was postponed. Relatives and friends of the accused did not know the new date for the trial. Litvin’s mother was called as a witness but was handed the summons only on the day of the trial and arrived in court two hours late.

The indictment, based on the evidence of five district OVD officials, maintained that on July 19 Litvin was detained on a beach by police officials and that he put up resistance when they attempted to take him to a sobering-up station.

Witnesses Parubchenko and Bobyr, who had been with Litvin on the beach, testified that he had been completely sober and that he had tried to persuade the OVD officials to refrain from violence. Only when they were dragging him to their car did he call them fascists and Nazi police. Sergeant Poligolov, who had participated in Litvin’s detention and beaten him up at the sobering-up station, figured at the trial as a “victim”.

The Judge said that the evidence of Parubchenko and Bobyr was untrustworthy, since one of them was a relative of the accused and the other an acquaintance. The sentence was three years in strict- regime camps. Kiev Regional Court left the original sentence un-changed on appeal.

The Trial of Berdnik, December 1979

From 17 to 19 December in Kagarlyk, Kiev Region, the trial took place of Alexander Berdnik, charged under Article 62 part 2 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (= Article 70 of the RSFSR Code). Berdnik had been a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group from the moment of its: inception in November 1976. He became its chairman after N. Rudenko’s arrest in February 1977. He was arrested on (5 March 1979 (CCE 53).

For the Procurator’s speech all who wished to do so were allowed to enter the courtroom. The Procurator said that he had intended to demand ten years in camps and five years’ exile (the maximum under Article 62 part 2), but in view of Berdnik’s repentance he was demanding eight and three.

The defence counsel asked for lenience since Berdnik had admitted his mistakes; furthermore, the time limit had expired for his first conviction (in 1949) to be taken into account, and therefore part 2 of Article 62 was not applicable to him.

In his final speech Berdnik said that in principle the aims of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group were good, but in practice the Group had harmed the interests of tins State, He approved the activities of N. Rudenko. He was sentenced to six years in strict-regime camps and three years’ exile.


The Trial of Badzyo, December 1979

From 19 to 21 December Kiev City Court, presided over by Usatenko, examined the case of Yury BADZYO (Badzë), who was charged with “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”. The prosecutor was Procurator Lesnoi.

Badzyo’s wife Svetlana Kirichenko (CCE 54) refused to engage a lawyer for her husband on the grounds that she did not consider a single Soviet lawyer would be prepared to question the constitutional legality of Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code and therefore be able to provide a valid defence at a political trial. Therefore Defence Counsel L. P. Korytchenko was appointed by the court to defend Badzyo.


The first search of Badzyo’s home was conducted on the night of 3-4 February (CCE 52). He was arrested on 23 April (CCE 53).

At the end of May a search was conducted in connection with the Badzyo case at the home of the 79-year-old writer B. Antonenko-Davidovich ( CCE 45; see also “Miscellaneous Reports” in this issue). Memoirs and stories on which he had been working were confiscated. After the search Antonenko-Davidovich was summoned several times for interrogations. On the eve of his eightieth birthday, he was obliged to leave Kiev. (The Ukrainian Writers’ Union did not mark his birthday in any way.)

The investigation of the Badzyo case was conducted by KGB Major M.M. Slobozhenyuk who also conducted the case of Gely Snegiryov (CCE 52; he was only a captain at that time).


Badzyo’s friends were not admitted to the courtroom, which had been filled with a specially invited public. Badzyo’s wife and 19-year-old son were summoned as witnesses and were the last to take the stand. [Note 1] Svetlana Kirichenko announced that she would not give evidence at a closed trial such as she was convinced this was. The presiding Judge interpreted these words as an insult to the court and excluded Kirichenko from the proceeding. Sergei Badzyo was not permitted to remain in the courtroom after he had given evidence.

The main charge in the indictment concerned “a document of anti-Soviet nature entitled The Right  to Live,” a book written by Yury Badzyo. There was also a charge relating to the first draft of the book which had been stolen from acquaintances of Badzyo in 1977. The only thing officially known about this “document” was that it had existed, and this was known only through the evidence of Badzyo himself. As regards the book’s second draft, it was argued that Badzyo must have intended to circulate it, since five typewritten copies of the first 50 pages had been confiscated along with the manuscript.

None of the witnesses confirmed that the book had been circulated. The girl who had typed out the first 50 pages said that she had not read any of the rest. Badzyo’s acquaintances, who had kept the book for him, testified that they had not looked inside the briefcase where it was kept. Svetlana Kirichenko, in whose hand the book had been rewritten, gave no evidence at all.

Badzyo was also charged in connection with a letter he had written to the Sixth Ukrainian Writers’ Congress. The anti-Soviet nature of the letter consisted of Badzyo’s defence of the “anti-Sovietists” Svetlichny and Stus. (When the letter was written, in 1971, neither man had been arrested.)

Badzyo was also charged in connection with possession and circulation of the following documents:

  • a brochure entitled The Assimilation of Ukrainians and Belorussians by the Poles, published in Poland in 1937;
  • N. Rudenko’s book Economic Monologues; and
  • Dzyuba’s work Internationalism or Russification?

Badzyo testified that he had not read the first two works and had had no intention of circulating them. There was no other evidence on this subject. As regards Dzyuba’s work, the story that it had been in Badzyo’s possession came from a single witness — Igor Buchinsky. The accused refuted his evidence categorically.

The final charge was that in 1966 Badzyo had prepared and circulated a slanderous anti-Soviet document — an explanation to at Party meeting investigating a disciplinary case against him. Witnesses confirmed that the meeting had asked Badzyo to explain his behaviour on 4 September 1965 in the ‘Ukraina’ Cinema (where public protests had been made against political arrests), and that Badzyo had given a politically immature explanation. Badzyo himself had stated that he had ‘read out” his speech and this was counted as proof of preparation and dissemination. Neither the document itself nor Badzyo’s statement was in the case file.

In the judgment it was said that Badzyo had conducted anti-Soviet propaganda “to undermine faith in the Communist Party”, on which his book The Right to Live poured filth. He had shown himself to tie anti-Soviet in 1965 at the Party hearing of his case. There were no extenuating circumstances in the case; the accused had not admitted his guilt, although he had admitted that some of his assert ions were untrue. Svetlana Kirichenko was named in the judgement as a criminal accomplice, since she had made a copy of the book The Right to Live.

Yu. Badzyo received the maximum sentence under Article 62 — seven years in strict-regime camps and five years of exile. After the judgment had been read out Yury Badzyo said that he had never admitted that assertions incriminating him were “untrue’ and demanded that this sentence be erased from the judgment.


The Trial of Reshat Dzhemilev, December 1979

The trial of Reshat Dzhemilev, arrested on 4 April (CCE 53), was resumed (CCE 54) in Tashkent on 11 December. Dzhemilev’s relatives and friends were allowed into the courtroom.

On the second or third day of the trial Dzhemilev said that he no longer wished to be defended, since his counsel was behaving like a prosecutor. The court passed sentence on 17 December: three years in strict-regime camps.